“Evening London! It’s good to be home!”
Having recently returned from Europe where UK heavy melodic rockers Heavens Basement have supported Seether and prior to that Halestorm, singer, Aaron Buchanan, looked genuinely pleased to have touched down on home soil with his first two tours tightly secured to his belt, and to be here, in this intimate venue with family, friends and the lucky fans who managed to get a ticket.
Formed in 2008, the band has seen the comings and goings of both a bassist and a frontman. I first saw Heavens Basement play the Jagermeister stage at Sonisphere in 2009. They certainly had a little something special at the time, a hint of metal and a hint of glam, and at Barfly tonight, I expected big things from their charismatic new singer and from their new album, “Filthy Empire”, due for release early in the New Year via Red Bull Records.
Straight in, the walls shake with Rob Ellershaw’s repetitive, mean bass line; Chris Rivers’ frenzied drumming and joined by Sid Glover’s energetic opening riff, the beginnings of “Unbreakable” are a perfect party ice breaker. If this is how they have been pulling out the stops on tour to new crowds, then their motto about “evolution, growth and reaching new heights”, shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve. From there on we are treated to a filthy feast of tracks from the new album. “Can’t Let Go” from their first EP, is delivered by Aaron as if the song was always originally his own. His voice is soulful; gut wrenching and has perfect range whether he is screaming angst into the mic or soaring with rocking harmonies. In my recent interview with Aaron he mentioned that Freddie Mercury had been a childhood role model and tonight, I can see the results of this infatuation as a little glimmer of the great man himself makes subtle appearances; body, voice and spirit.
If one song could take a match to the crowd it is certainly recently released single “Fire Fire”. A song that has everything on offer, it tumbles and crashes with a multitude of influences. From a slapping, high energy Motorhead-ish intro, to a melodious Led Zepplin style interlude followed by tumbling lead solos that take the song home to a full on Guns and Roses/Slash ending, could this just a bit too clichéd? Not really, they give it their own sense of dominance and this one is a sure hit with everyone. Another firm staple for the road has got to be “I Am Electric”. It does what it says on the tin; sounds every bit good live as it does on the new album and is wired up to give you shocks up and down your spine. “Jump with me!” screams Aaron as the first explosive few bars open up into a hellfire warning of a song.
All good so far. Just a little confused at Aaron’s stage departure for “Paranoia”. This probably looks ok in a larger venue but when he announces that he is just going to leave us for five minutes I do wonder, why? The four piece suddenly becomes a three piece. Sid Glover delivers vocals for the song brilliantly and together the remaining members pile through a romping rollercoaster of a rock song. It’s a shame Aaron had to miss it. If this is Sid’s song then perhaps Aaron should lend backing vocals when playing smaller venues? For a short moment, their unity just went a little awry. Not for long though. “Nothing Left To Loose”; another new single from the forthcoming album and the signature song for Red Bull Crashed Ice 2013, was a joyous celebration of what they can achieve in anthemic stadium status. I loved the dual vocals and the sheer attack of guitar. This is certainly another hit with perfect sing a long choruses.
The excitement the rest of their set exudes, escalates the mood and the penultimate song, “Reign on My Parade”, nearly drives the crowd through the floor. With tumbling bass lines and crowd noise on command, this is a familiar song from their first EP. Lastly “Executioner’s Day”, provides a mental whirlwind that whips the expectant audience up into a tornado. It is the piece de resistance, and London has certainly made it to heaven tonight.
Humble, gracious and so polite, this is truly a hardworking band with no pretences. With plans to tour for much of 2013 they support Buckcherry around Canada in January, followed by their own UK dates, they have just announced that they will also be supporting Black Veil Brides around Europe in April. So, make sure you catch them, although it’s never too late as I can warrant that Heavens Basement will be around for a very long time to come!